left, A man sitting on wooded steps of a house. right, movie poster for the film Southeast: A City within a City

SOUTHEAST: a city within a city, Special Film Presentation

Event summary


4/29, 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM CDT


Free, registration required


About this event

Join us for this special screening of award-winning director Steven Walsh’s documentary about Chicago’s Southeast Side.

This presentation includes a panel discussion with featured community members and scholars, and will be followed by a guided tour of the Calumet Voices, National Stories exhibition.

“SOUTHEAST: a city within a city” is first-time filmmaker Steven Walsh’s inquiry into how his neighborhood went from a bustling industrial community to being perceived as a deindustrialized “wasteland” to now being recognized for its art, resilience, and environmental activism. Mr. Walsh skillfully weaves recent interviews with his grandfather, community leaders, artists, and educators together with historical photographs and documents to present a rich tapestry of this complicated urban landscape through the perspectives of the people who call it home. In addition to the footage itself, the screening is interspersed with performance art and live music, offering poignant insights into this community’s, and the broader Calumet region’s, struggles and opportunities. For more than a century, the Calumet region of Southeast Chicago and Northwest Indiana attracted millions of im/migrants from Europe, Latin America, and the American South to work in the steel mills that played a crucial role in building the United States. When most steel mills closed precipitously in the early 1980s, multiple generations of workers and their families were devastated. But strong community ties, a heritage of innovation, and concern for the environment have kept the region going and working toward a sustainable future. This film helps to tell that story.

“SOUTHEAST: a city within a city” is a program of the Calumet Voices, National Stories exhibition, which showcases the Calumet’s unique relationship between fragile ecosystems, world-class industry, and diverse cultural heritage that makes this region an unexpected national treasure. The exhibition is a culmination of a collaborative exhibit series presented across the region in recent years, with 15 local museums and history centers sharing their collections and stories. The Field’s exhibition brings components from the previous shows together with the Field’s own Calumet collections and scientists’ research and activism in the area.